I’ve always been The Awkward Girl. I was The Awkward Girl before being awkward and quirky was cool. I constantly felt like I stood out…in a bad way. I wasn’t smart enough to blame it on my genius, but I wasn’t dumb enough either, so with no excuses left, life was hard. I was the girl who turned red when I [tried] talking to a crush. I stuttered every time I tried to articulate a thought and I wore straight-legged jeans, when everyone else wore flared.
There were days when I felt so uncomfortable, that I would pretend to be sick, because I couldn’t stand the idea of being seen at school. I wanted to crawl out of my skin and trade it in from something cooler, something better. But I was 14 and too young, so I grew out my hair and let it fall in front of my face.
My boyfriend told me I was beautiful. I told him he was a liar. My best friend said I was like the ugly duckling. She said I was her inspiration. I wasn’t sure how offended I should have been.
Flash forward to college. I am single. I am a girl. Boys like girls. Boys like me. They like my body. They like my eyes. One guy told me he liked my teeth. But I tell a joke and they look confused. I spill out the thoughts that are running through my head, and they walk away. I think to myself, I want to be a Cool Girl.
So I talk about obscure bands, and movies and I smile and nod, and pretend to care. They think I’m great. I get asked out on a date. I do all the things that Cool Girls are supposed to do. I go with the flow. I don’t challenge. I don’t try to make stupid jokes. But I am bored and I am exhausted. Months go by, and I can’t pretend anymore. I unmask myself, un-coolness oozing out of my pores. They don’t like it. They walk away from The Awkward Girl.
One day, I decide not to care. I embrace the silence and let my thoughts become audible. I feel happy for the first time in a long time. I laugh with my friends and sleep with my books. I cut off my long hair and stop thinking so much about other people. For the first time, I think, it doesn’t matter.